Once a novice rower and now captain of the University of Massachusetts Amherst crew team, Marika learned how to believe in herself and lead her teammates.
I love rowing so much. There's something about rowing that's different than any other sport. We all have to move in one fluid motion. It's not about one person being stronger than the rest. And I like that. I like that you can be competitive on the team while still remaining supportive of one another. Becoming captain last year was really an honor. And I'm excited. Last year was our first time in 16 years at NCAAs, so we're hoping to take it home this year. We're racing schools like Yale and Brown. So it's nice to represent a state school and a smaller school that they haven't seen in 16 years. We're ready to kick some butt this year. I wake up in the morning. I'm up. I work out. I go to class. I get through my day. I do all my classwork. I finish my lifting. And then I have time to do homework and relax. The UMass rowing team has just taught me how to be a strong, independent woman. And I know that that sounds cliche. But I came in to UMass weighing 137 pounds. I was 6 feet. And I was this string bean, scraggly girl. Had no idea where to go. And I found my home on this team. You go anywhere on this campus and you know someone. I'm Marika Kopp. I'm a senior environmental design student. I stand for strong women and commitment to my team. I stand for UMass.